“I haven’t missed a Sunday of church for two years.”
“It’s been four years since I had a day when I didn’t read my Bible.”
“I taught Sunday School for 13 years.”
“Spiritual” attainments feed pride. Accomplishments make us better than other people. Motives for what we do can get complicated. Are we going to church to edify and be edified, or are we going so we can hold it over others or “be a good example” to people you’ve deemed worse than you?
I’ve read the Bible a lot of times. I really want to tell you how many because you’d be impressed. I desire to let people know how many times because it is impressive! You’ll fall down before me and worship my awesomeness and stuff. I’ve also memorized a lot of verses. At one point I could quote entire books of the Bible. You’d be wowed.
I wanted to do these things because I wanted to know the Bible and deeply understand it. These two things helped immensely. You should do both things; it will help you. One of the things the Bible says is that “knowledge puffs up.” It does. So does all the stuff you have to do to get that knowledge.
When I stand before God, I’m curious what things that I’m proud of that He’s going to say, “Uh, yeah, I didn’t really care so much about that.” I also wonder what other things I’ve completely neglected that He’s going to say, “Uh, with all the time you had to do those things, how come you never got around to this?”
Is God as impressed with your church attendance as you are? Does your Bible reading wow Him? Are there other things we’re missing?
I know there are because Jesus Himself said that on judgment day many will say “Lord, Lord” and list their spiritual attainments they are most proud of. He will tell them He never knew them and to depart from Him. That’s rough.
Minimizing Bible reading or church attendance is not the point. I’m not saying that if you don’t do these things you’re better off somehow. Not the point at all. I’ve heard some people say that since good works can lead to spiritual pride, they’ll refuse to do them and do sin instead, as it keeps them humble and dependent on God’s grace. That’s just silly. It flies in the face of Paul’s repeated question, “Should we sin that grace may abound?”
The point is not to stop going to church or reading the Bible.
The point is about pride. If you think your spiritual attainments make you better than others and more impressive to God, well, that will probably not be the case. Humility is one of the big things God wants us to work at. Humility will then lead to bearing other’s burdens and doing love things.
I do believe my impressive Bible reading and memorizing feats have helped me love people better, but they can also quickly delve into pride, self-righteousness, and judgmentalism. Pride must constantly be fought off. Fight that fight. You don’t win the fight by doing nothing; you win the fight by doing the right things for the right reasons. Figure out what that means and walk that way.